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Durham University

School of Modern Languages and Cultures: Italian Studies

Italy and The Arts

Academic Year 2020-21

This module, which is taught and assessed in English, is open to students taking Italian Language 1A or 1B. The module introduces students to the multifarious dimension of Italian artistic heritage as it is managed, discussed, and experienced in today’s Italy. In large parts of the Italian territory, monuments and museums famous all over the world are inextricably linked to people’s everyday life and are constitutive of the Italian urban and rural landscape. Students will become familiar with well-known and less-known cities and regions of Italy in their specific relation to the history and development of the visual arts. The module also offers an introduction to research topics and methodologies while specific instructions on how to write an essay in the visual arts will also be provided.

During the first term, students will be introduced to the art of the Italian Middle Ages, from the end of the Classical era to the dawn of the Renaissance period, exploring its relationship with literature, politics as well as its influence on European culture. During the second term, students will learn how to approach key Italian masters from the Baroque to the contemporary periods, with particular focus on the genres, styles and contexts of their most iconic artworks. The adopted methods of enquiry entail a comparative approach to works of art from different periods and formats, with the intention of developing a critical ability to read complex visual images in their historical, social and political dimensions. Throughout, the module will include discussion on the considerable transnational aspect of Italian visual arts and culture. We will also take a look at artworks available on the global art market or displayed in landmark exhibitions to gain some familiarity with the role and value of Italian art in contemporary culture. This module has been designed to reflect a commitment to diversity in its resources and delivery, and will create opportunities for students to engage in critical analysis of different perspectives relevant to the study area.

Texts studied are likely to include:

  • Campbell, Stephen J., and Michael Wayne Cole, A New History of Italian Renaissance Art, London: Thames & Hudson, 2012

Select chapters from:

  • L. Nees, Early Medieval Art, Oxford: OUP, 2002
  • V. Sekules, Medieval Art, Oxford: OUP, 2001
  • R. Stalley, Early Medieval Architecture, Oxford: OUP, 1999

Material posted on DUO and/or on the reserve shelves in the Bill Bryson Library.

Co-ordinator:

Dr Dario Tessicini, Room A16, Elvet Riverside I

Further details of pre-requisites, co-requisites, aims, contact hours and assessment.